Roundup: CC Goes Toe-to-Toe with Denver; St. Cloud Back in 1st
CHN Staff Report
There were many rivalry games this weekend as teams head into break — Clarkson-St. Lawrence, Michigan-Michigan State, Niagara-Canisius, Alaska vs. Alaska. But of those, this one between Denver and Colorado College has typically been most lopsided.
Coming into the weekend, Denver had won 14 straight. But the Tigers showed their strongest signs yet of coming out of the years-long doldrums now in their fourth season under Mike Haviland. CC had made the NCAAs 12 of 19 years before the NCHC was formed in 2013, but hasn't even been able to crack double-digit wins since then.
This year, though, CC is hanging right around .500. And a pair of ties with Denver, the defending national champs, is quite a boost. For NCHC purposes, the games both went to 3-on-3 shootout, with CC winning Friday in Denver, and Denver turning the tables Saturday.
Alex Leclerc made 37 saves and Trevor Gooch scored for Colorado College. Liam Finlay scored for Denver. Finlay also got the 3-on-3 OT winner.
“We were pretty good against the No. 1 team in the country this weekend,” Haviland said. “We are getting better and better each game. It was tough to duplicate last night’s effort, but it was important to show that we could.”
For his part, Denver coach Jim Montgomery, whose team was expected to run away with things but is "only" 9-3-4, was very positive about things despite the two ties.
"This was the best game we played and the best growth for our team since the Boston College game," Montgomery said. "I am excited about where we can go because of the improvement I'm seeing in our team-first attitude and our grit."
Both teams took penalties in the final seconds of regulation, setting up four-on-four play for the start of the overtime period, but neither team could capitalize and the extra period expired to end the game in an official 1-1 tie.
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Friday night's tie and subsequent shootout loss to North Dakota was the first blemish at home this season for St. Cloud State. Saturday night, the Huskies got things back on track with an impressive 3-1 win to move back into first place by itself as the teams head into the holiday break.
St. Cloud, No. 1 in the Pairwise, is 9-0-1 at home this season.
North Dakota outshot the Huskies, 35-18, and had more than double the shot attempts. But St. Cloud State took advantage of a brief second-period lull by the visitors and scored three times in a span of 6:24 – two of them one minute apart by Mikey Eyssimont.
Sophomore forward Cole Smith got UND on the board with six-tenths of a second remaining in the second period, but the hole was too deep for the Fighting Hawks, who enter the Christmas break three points behind the Huskies and with a 10-5-5 overall record.
“There was about five, seven minutes there in the second period where we kind of got away from our game,” said Smith, who has scored a goal in three straight games. “A high-scoring offense like that, they took advantage of it. That’s something in the second half we’re going to have to take out of our game if we want to win these big ones. We just got away from doing the little things right.”
UND certainly wasn’t lacking for chances on this night, not with the Fighting Hawks outshooting the Huskies 26-9 over the final two periods. But Shane Gerisch was stopped by SCSU goalie David Hrenak on a third-period breakaway, Austin Poganski hit the post in the first period, and Hayden Shaw had a point shot deflect off the cross bar in the final frame.
The Huskies also blocked a whopping 30 shot attempts.
“Besides a few minutes there in the second I thought we played really well,” said senior forward Trevor Olson. “They’re a good team, they’re a fast team, and if you have some breakdowns they’re going to score on you and that’s exactly what they did. We can take a lot from this game into the break.”
The first of Eyssimont’s two goals was originally ruled no-goal on the ice. Eyssimont slid the puck into the net while one of his teammates was already completely inside the cage. But after video review, it was determined that no interference occurred on the play and the Huskies found themselves leading 2-0.
Exactly one minute later, Eyssimont slipped behind the UND defense and received the puck on top of the crease. He deftly outwaited UND goalie Cam Johnson and tucked it around him for his sixth goal of the season.
“Our team has grown a lot since August. We’re building as a team,” UND head coach Brad Berry said. “This was a heavy, hard weekend against a good team and I thought we passed the test. I know the result wasn’t what we wanted tonight. Tonight we came up a little short. I’m not disappointed in the effort.
“It got away. That’s a good team. They capitalized in a couple of areas there tonight.”
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Wade Allison completed his natural hat trick and ended Western Michigan’s four-game losing streak as the Broncos defeated Miami 4-3 in overtime at Lawson Ice Arena on Saturday night.
Colt Conrad found Allison at the middle of the blue line and the sophomore forward skated in on Ryan Larkin and beat him for the third time on the night to give WMU (10-8-1, 6-4-0-0 NCHC) the win. The goal was his 14th of the season and his second hat trick of the season. Sophomore defenseman Kale Bennett also tallied an assist, his first collegiate point.
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Minnesota-Duluth's offense busted out this weekend with 11 goals. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that was only good for one win in Omaha.
UMD had been shut out four times entering the weekend, and was languishing near last place in the NCHC. Friday's game, the Bulldogs put up five goals, the most since Oct. 21, but lost a wild game, 7-5. Saturday, UMD tightened things up, and Hunter Shepard made 32 saves, to win 6-2 against Nebraska-Omaha.
Riley Tufte had two goals, and Peter Krieger had three assists for UMD.
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Michigan Tech earned a WCHA split with Ferris State after a 5-1 win Saturday at MacInnes Ice Arena. Freshman goaltender Robbie Beydoun earned his first collegiate win with 31 saves, while Alex Smith had a goal and an assist.
"Robbie did a great job for us in net tonight," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "He gave us a chance when we weren't firing on all cylinders at the start. He stayed aggressive and strong throughout, and I'm extremely proud and happy for him."
After surrendering the lead 15:45 into the game on a shorthanded goal by Jasen Fernsler, the Huskies scored five straight goals.
Dylan Steman added to the lead before the end of the second, putting in his first of the season. The assist went to Seamus Donohue as he fed Steman out front from the corner for a backhanded whack and the 17th goal of his career.
"Dylan's a gifted hockey player, and it was only a matter of time for him to score," Shawhan said. "He hasn't played a tremendous amount over the last two seasons with some injuries. He just makes players around him better, and his value to this team is immeasurable. I'm happy that one is behind him and that now he can start filling it up."
Beydoun had 11 saves in the first period, 14 in the second, and six in the third. He had key saves late in each of the first two periods.
"It obviously feels really good," Beydoun said. "It's been a little bit of a tough year not getting into too many games yet, but I knew once I got comfortably into a game it would be fine."
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Also in the WCHA, Minnesota State completed a series sweep of Lake Superior State, winning 5-1 and 7-0. Ian Scheid and Parker Tuomie scored twice each in Saturday's shutout. ... Alaska won a pair of games from rival Alaska-Anchorage. ... Northern Michigan and Bemidji State played to a pair of ties on the weekend, with NMU taking the shootout both times. ... Bowling Green lost a shootout with Alabama-Huntsville on Friday, but came back to win Saturday to remain one point ahead of Minnesota State for first place. MSU has two games in hand.